Gem terms, Glossaries, O

Organic materials

Organics are materials derived from animal and plant sources.

In jewellery, organic materials can further be classified as gem organics and non-gem organics. Examples of each are:

Gem organics:

Derived from animals

Pearl. Ivory. Shell (mother-of-pearl and tortoiseshell). Coral.

Derived from plants

Plants themselves are not considered durable enough to be gems.

Note: Can fossilized plant substances like amber and jet be classified as organic? Although they used to be living organisms, their organic material have decomposed over the centuries and replaced by minerals, which are inorganic, are they not?

However, in order to be considered a mineral, a substance has to have a crystal structure. In the case of amber and jet, (and these are not the only gem examples to be found, the same goes for opal and pearl), the mineral-like substances of these materials do not demonstrate the usual crystalinity. These are better described as mineraloids, which would better classify them as organic gems…

Non-gem organics:

Derived from animals

Teeth. Horn. Bone. Hair. Feathers.

Derived from plants

Wood. Vegetable ivories. Seeds. Nuts. Pits.